Automotive Retail: focus on medium-sized commercial customers

Almost every one of our digitalization projects for the Automotive Retail over the last 25 years began with the task of describing the “customer journey”. Today, this can be understood as the journey of the – usually private – customer, who moves more or less freely through online (manufacturer sites, dealer sites, online configurators, independent providers, subscription models, etc.) and offline channels (pop-up stores, dealer showrooms, intermediaries) when purchasing a new vehicle.
The user experience is not always particularly positive, as the integration of all desired services relating to financing or leasing, insurance or mobility, equipment or packages is usually only partially guaranteed. Nevertheless, we can see that car manufacturers are continuously working on improving the private customer experience in order to attract new customers and retain existing ones.
What is irritating, however, is the fact that when defining the requirements for sales tools for retailers, the needs of commercial customers are not considered at all or only in a very rudimentary way! What solutions exactly does this engine of the German economy need in order to receive optimum support in terms of costs, productivity, efficiency and satisfaction? What demands are being placed on the management of car and commercial vehicle fleets as a result of the current crisis?
And how can the sales department for mobility solutions be optimally supported in serving commercial customers in the best possible way?
Let’s first take a closer look at developments in the commercial vehicle market: here, the sale of vehicles of all brands has always depended on intensive engagement with the business model of the trader, regardless of whether it was light or heavy commercial vehicles. This is necessary in order to create a solution that enables the entrepreneur to be successful. This concerns the equipment of the vehicle, the financing, the mobility service or the control instruments. The salesperson in the commercial vehicle segment must then go to the customer locally and be able to configure the relevant solutions in the relevant systems on site and bring them to a conclusion.
This challenge will grow steadily in the future as technological progress and the increase in controllable equipment variants from third-party service providers increase in complexity. The same level of support is required from car fleet operators, except that sales staff are not yet equipped with the tools that have long been commonplace in the commercial vehicle segment. For example, car sales staff are generally not trained to go out into the field and try to close deals with customers. Nor do they have the necessary and appropriate sales tools that have been developed on the basis of private customer needs.
We see great potential for action in the digitalization of sales processes for mobility solutions for commercial customers: The sales workstations (i.e. the sales applications) of the future must be mobile, integrate all components (vehicle, customer, financing, equipment, mobility, data evaluation) and be efficient to use.
It should be clear by now at the latest that the customer journey of a private customer will not cover the needs of a commercial customer. A target image is needed for one of the most important growth areas in automotive sales! And this target image for the support of commercial customers can be achieved if all organizational components in the customer journey are consistently aligned with it: Structures, processes, systems and even the sales culture need to be rethought and revised if strategic positioning is to be successful.

Tobias Bald

Partner

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